AN ambitious vision to transform Pilkington UK’s Watson Street works site will be the subject of a town centre exhibition later this month.

Pilkington UK, part of the NSG Group, produced glass at the site in St Helens, on the edge of the town centre, for almost 200 years.

The glass giant says that during that time, technology "has evolved and buildings on the site have been built, adapted, and demolished to suit these changing requirements".

However, the company says it is time for a new chapter for the site.

NSG Group - Pilks' owner - is currently investing significantly in St Helens’ glass manufacturing by relocating the glass production from Watson Street "to a new, more sustainable, rolled glass line at nearby Greengate Works".

The Watson Street worksThe Watson Street works (Image: Pilks/NSG)

The move is said to represent progress towards a sustainable future for the NSG Group as they get closer to their target of carbon neutrality by 2050.

Pilks say that as well as this also being a key step in St Helens’ journey to carbon neutrality  - saving 15,000 tonnes of carbon emissions a year - the relocation provides an opportunity for the development of the Watson Street Works site for alternative use.

NSG Group has been in discussion with St Helens Council to determine how the future of the site could support wider regeneration plans for the nearby town centre.

While Pilkington UK/NSG Group won’t be directly involved with any future development of Watson Street Works, it intends to demonstrate how the site could positively contribute to the future regeneration of St Helens.

The Star reported earlier this year how a Liverpool City Region document that discusses innovation opportunities, states that the sites could be reutilised for a "mix of redevelopment, growth, and land development projects".

The document proposed that the glassworks, as well as land around the Glass Futures site, could become a designated 'Investment Zone' and use tax incentives to encourage investment into the area.

Public consultation

A public consultation event in July will be showcasing this vision and will explore exciting proposals to create a new "industrious neighbourhood" on the 30-acre site.

The masterplan concept, which has been developed by a team of consultants led by Broadway Malyan on behalf of St Helens Borough Council and Pilkington UK/NSG Group, envisions a new mixed-use district on the edge of the town centre.

This will include 700 new homes, and light industrial and business space, all integrated around generous green space and inspired by the site’s rich industrial heritage.

'A huge opportunity'

Ivor Phillips, director of architecture at Broadway Malyan, said: “This is a huge opportunity for St Helens to regenerate and reimagine this key brownfield site and create a vibrant, liveable and sustainable place that takes reference from the past while responding to the future needs and aspirations of the town.

“The proposals are both complementary and supportive of the existing regeneration of the town centre and together they can set a benchmark for authentic context-driven urban renewal that delivers meaningful social, environmental and economic value.”

An overhead sketch of how the site could be transformedAn overhead sketch of how the site could be transformed (Image: Pilks/NSG)

Potential developers

Neil Syder, managing drector at Pilkington UK, added: “While we won’t be directly involved in future development of Watson Street Works, we are keen for potential developers to recognise the contribution the site could make to the future regeneration of St Helens.

"It’s a really exciting time for the region, and with our investment into Greengate, and possibilities for the future of Watson Street looking really interesting, we are committed to supporting the St Helens community to thrive, and ensuring that the town remains at the heart of UK glass manufacturing.

Other consultants working on the project include Nexus Planning, IMT Consulting, Curtins, RSK, TEP, Buro Happold and Aspinall Verdi.

Public drop-in

The public drop-in consultation event for the regeneration of the former Pilkington UK glass works at Watson Street will take place on Friday July 12 and Saturday, July 13 at the LaGrange Arcade in the Church Square Shopping Centre in St Helens.

More details can be found at